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2023: INEC lists multiple registration, increased IDPs as challenges

INEC voids declaration of Binani as Adamawa governor-elect, suspends collation of results

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed increasing internally displaced persons (IDPs) and multiple registrations as some of the major challenges to its preparations for the 2023 general election, as against funding.

Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee of INEC, said this on Wednesday while responding to concerns on section 3(3) of Electoral Act 2022 which provides that funds for the general election must be released a year before the polls.

Okoye, who spoke at a workshop on “The 2023 Elections: Emerging challenges and improvements” organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for select journalists in Abuja, said the Electoral Act has just been signed and election funds provided for in the Act, were, however, yet to be released to the commission.

“This Electoral Act has just been signed, but before it was signed, we had sufficient money for the activities we want to carry out, and we believe that the National Assembly had already approved and appropriated money for us. The monies are released to us in tranches, so we don’t see funds being a challenge to some of the activities we have now.”

Okoye said the major challenges the commission faces ahead of the general elections are multiple registrations, absence of database for births and deaths, increasing number of IDPs, technological hitches, logistics, infrastructure deficits, difficult terrains, among others.

“Those that have lost their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), rather than apply for a new one, ignorantly register afresh in violation of the law. Those with PVCs that are defaced or damaged simply apply for new ones. All these are in violation of the law and the commission does not have the capacity to prosecute all the violators and I am sure that the country does not have enough correctional facilities to house the large number of violators.

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“Nigeria does not have reliable data of births and deaths. While it is easy to use newspaper obituaries to delete the names of prominent people who are deceased, it is next to impossibility for the commission to do a thorough job without reliable data of deaths and births.

“As some of you are aware, the commission has introduced new and creative changes in the enumeration of voters; the party nomination processes and the conduct of elections. The commission introduced the INEC Result Viewing Portal (iRev) through which polling unit level results are uploaded to a result viewing portal in real-time. The commission has also introduced the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation and authentication.

“The commission had setbacks with the BVAS during the Anambra governorship election and the FCT Area Council Elections and the BVAS performed well during the 6 bye-elections conducted by the commission in four states of the federation.”

“The commission decongested and dispersed some of the polling units and relocated those in inappropriate locations. Populating the newly created polling units is a huge challenge. Some of the newly created polling units have zero voters while others have up to 5,000 registered voters. The commission is working hard to balance these polling units,” he said.

“The 2023 general elections will come with challenges and the commission is determined to surmount these challenges and conduct a free, fair, credible and inclusive election. Growing insecurity in several parts of the country and the increasing number of IDPs will pose the biggest challenge.”

Shuaibu Danwanka, the legal adviser of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies said the Electoral Act, 2022 in particular, appears desirable with flamboyant provisions that will no doubt strengthen the electoral process to a certain degree of fairness and credibility.

Earlier, Vladimir Kreck, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung said while the Electoral Act may pose some challenges, it also has the improvements that will come towards the elections 2023.

“I have been in Nigeria since August 2008, and I also personally witnessed the elections in 2019 and the issues that revolved around those elections, especially arising also from the Electoral Act 2010,” he said.